Magic end 13-game skid against Charlotte
By Bill Fay
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic ended a 13-game losing streak to Charlotte, routing the Hornets 127-89 on Thursday night behind 21 points from reserve Terrence Ross.
The Magic have won five straight for the first time in more than three years. Nikola Vucevic had his fifth straight double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jonathan Isaac scored 16 points.
The Magic led 71-36 at halftime, their biggest lead in any game this season. Guard D.J. Augustin drilled a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half and the Hornets never got closer than 29 points after halftime.
Malik Mon scored 15 points, Jeremy Lamb had 14 and Cody Zeller added 13 for the Hornets.
It was Orlando’s first victory over Charlotte since Dec. 16, 2015.
Charlotte started poorly and got worse throughout a forgettable first half. The Hornets were only 6 of 24 in the first quarter and were already down 15 by the end of the period. The deficit grew to 36 when Orlando outscored the Hornets 16-6 in the final three minutes of the half.
The Magic dominated the game at both ends of the court, but most of it was fueled by a relentless defense that limited Charlotte to 26.4 percent shooting for the half.
All-Star Kemba Walker, who has made a career of shooting down the Magic during the 13-game winning streak, was 1 for 10 at the start and only 4 of 17 by halftime. He had a plus-minus rating of minus-27 at halftime and only played seven minutes in the second half before sitting down for the night.
Orlando was almost as good offensively, getting contributions from every player, especially the fast-developing Isaac. The Magic’s top pick in the 2017 draft had 13 points and six rebounds at halftime, and was the anchor at the back end of the team’s defense. Charlotte hit just nine of 25 shots in the paint in the first half.
Hornets: PG Tony Parker (back) and C Bismack Biyombo (knee) sat out. Charlotte is 1-10 without Parker. . The Hornets are 1-10 when they score fewer than 100 points.
Magic: Isaac’s streak of seven straight games with two or more blocks ended. . Orlando is limiting opponents to just 39.6 percent shooting during its five-game winning streak.
Hornets: Host Washington on Feb. 22.
Magic: Host Chicago on Feb. 22.
KNICKS SNAP 18-GAME SKID WITH WIN OVER HAWKS
ATLANTA (AP) — Dennis Smith Jr. scored 19 points and the New York Knicks snapped a franchise-worst, 18-game losing streak with a 106-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.
The Knicks ended their longest skid within a single season with their first victory since Jan. 4 at the Los Angeles Lakers. New York, with the Eastern Conference’s worst record and second-worst overall, had dropped 26 of 27.
Kadeem Allen and John Jenkins each added 14 points. Damyean Dotson finished with 13 points and DeAndre Jordan had 13 rebounds for New York, which never trailed and only was tied twice, in the second quarter.
The Hawks, coming off an exciting victory over the Lakers two nights earlier, were flat throughout. They never pulled within single digits after John Collins’ hook shot made it 87-78 with 9:39 remaining.
Dewayne Dedmon led Atlanta with 21 points. Trae Young had 16 points and 11 assists.
PELICANS LOSE DAVIS, BEAT THUNDER, 131-122
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Julius Randle capped a 33-point, 11-rebound performance with three clutch baskets in the final minutes, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 131-122 on Thursday night despite losing All-Star Anthony Davis to a shoulder injury after the first half.
Davis was in the game when the first half ended, but kept his left arm still as he walked to the locker room shortly after fouling Nerlens Noel on an attempted shot block with his left hand in the final second of the second quarter. When the second half began, the Pelicans announced that Davis was out of the remainder of the game with a left shoulder injury, putting his availability for this weekend’s All-Star Game in doubt.
Russell Westbrook increased his record triple-double streak to 11 games with 44 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. But he missed a late 3-point attempt when the Thunder trailed by five just inside the final minute of the game. New Orleans rebounded and held on from there.
Jrue Holiday had 32 points and seven assists, none more timely than his driving feed to Randle in the paint with 1:30 to go.
Paul George scored 28 points for Oklahoma City, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Davis was in the starting lineup and played 16 minutes during the first half. He scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds, assisted on two baskets and blocked a shot. His performance helped New Orleans take a 66-63 lead into halftime.
Davis did not emerge from the locker room to start the second half.
Coming off a listless, 30-point loss to Orlando two nights earlier in which Davis scored just three points on 1-of-9 shooting, the Pelicans bounced back with a far superior showing against a team with the third-best record in the Western Conference.
The Pelicans led for most of the game and by as many as 17 on Randle’s free throws with five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Thunder pulled as close as 121-118 with 2:52 left, when George hit a straight-on 3, hollering and pounding his chest after the shot went down.
But the Pelicans didn’t fold thanks to Randle, who responded to George’s clutch 3 by tipping in Kenrich Williams’ missed 3-pointer.
Thunder: Noel had 22 points and 13 rebounds. He was the only other Thunder player besides Westbrook and George to score as many as 10 points. … Oklahoma City had 72 points in the paint but missed 34 of 44 3-point attempts. … George was 3 of 17 from 3-point range and Westbrook 4 for 12.
Pelicans: E’Twaun Moore intentionally fouled Ray Felton so he could check out of the game and limped to the bench favoring his left knee with 31 seconds left in the first quarter. He returned in the second quarter. … Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said before tip-off that guard Elfrid Payton is expected to return from a right ankle sprain after the All-Star break.
Thunder: Host Utah on Feb. 22.
Pelicans: Visit Indiana Feb. 22.
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